Kettleman City is a census-designated place (CDP) in Kings County, California, United States. Kettleman City is located 28 miles (45 km) southwest of Hanford, at an elevation of 253 feet (77 m). It is part of the Hanford–Corcoran Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 1,499 at the 2000 census. It is near the halfway point between Los Angeles and San Francisco or Sacramento on Interstate 5 at Exit 309 and so is a major stopping point for food and gasoline. An In-N-Out Burger is popular among drivers throughout the day as it is the only In-N-Out Burger along I-5 between Santa Clarita and Lathrop -- a distance of nearly 300 miles (480 km). The nicely appointed Super 8 Motel is a popular place to stay. The Kettleman City RV Park is available for campers.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 0.2 square miles (0.52 km2), all of it land.
Kettleman City is divided into two areas. The commercial zone of gas, food and lodging businesses is at Kettleman Junction where Interstate 5 and State Route 41 meet. The residential area together with some retail businesses and county government buildings is located about 2.0 km (1.25 mi) north on State Route 41. The California Aqueduct crosses State Route 41 between these two areas.
Kettleman City has a climate typical of that of the San Joaquin Valley with hot, dry summers and cool winters characterized by dense Tule fog. The rainy season occurs from November through April. The average annual rainfall over the 30-year period from 1971 through 2000 was 7.31 inches (186 mm). Historical climate data for Kettleman City are available at http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/hnx/coop/kettlemn.htm
Kings Area Rural Transit (KART) operates regularly scheduled fixed route bus service, vanpool service for commuters and Dial-A-Ride (demand response) services throughout Kings County as well as to Fresno.
Amtrak has a bus stop in Kettleman City.
As of the census of 2000, there were 1,499 people, 320 households, and 289 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 8,691.4 people per square mile (3,404.5/km²). There were 329 housing units at an average density of 1,907.6/sq mi (747.2/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 26.62% White, 0.40% Black or African American, 1.87% Native American, 66.18% from other races, and 4.94% from two or more races. It is noteworthy that 92.73% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Kettleman City is predominantly a Spanish-speaking community. At the time of the 2000 census, 93.5% of residents spoke Spanish at home, and 41.0% of this group spoke English "well" or "very well." 6.5% of residents spoke only English at home, and 55.1% spoke English "not well" or "not at all."
There were 320 households out of which 63.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 67.2% were married couples living together, 15.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 9.4% were non-families. 1.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 0.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 4.68 and the average family size was 4.59.
In the CDP the population was spread out with 36.3% under the age of 18, 15.6% from 18 to 24, 29.0% from 25 to 44, 14.8% from 45 to 64, and 4.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 24 years. For every 100 females there were 123.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 125.2 males.
The median income for a household in the CDP was $22,409, and the median income for a family was $21,955. Males had a median income of $16,619 versus $10,179 for females. The per capita income for Kettleman City was only $7,389 - about a third of California's average of $22,711. Significantly, about 38.6% of families and 43.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 52.7% of those under age 18 and none of those age 65 or over.
In the state legislature Kettleman City is located in the 16th Senate District, represented by Democrat Dean Florez, and in the 30th Assembly District, represented by Republican Danny Gilmore. Federally, Kettleman City is located in California's 20th congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of D +5 and is represented by Democrat Jim Costa.
Kettleman City is represented on the Kings County Board of Supervisors by Richard Valle of Corcoran.
A large 1,600 acre (4,000 hectare) hazardous waste and municipal solid waste disposal facility operated by Waste Management, Inc. is located 3.5 mi (5.6 km) southwest of Kettleman City on State Route 41. The company is an important employer and donates significant funds to the local community, including Kettleman City Elementary School. The facility manager, Bob Henry, pointed out in a 2007 newspaper interview that it is periodically inspected by as many as nine federal, state and local agencies. Nevertheless, the company is frequently criticized by a local organization called People for Clean Air and Water (El Pueblo para El Aire y Agua Limpio) and by environmental groups such as Greenaction for its perceived health threats. In 2007, Maricela Mares-Alatorre, a leader of People for Clean Air and Water, was quoted as saying: "Are we supposed to be happy that they're getting more trash? Donations don't buy you health." In 2009, Greenaction alleged that there was a birth defects cluster in Kettleman City between September 2007 and November 2008. The Kings County Department of Public Health responded that it would continue to investigate but that their preliminary determination was "that to the extent that a cluster may exist, it is most likely a random event unrelated to any environmental exposure unique to Kettleman City."
There is considerable service commercial development at the Interstate 5/State Route 41 junction to meet the needs of highway travelers.
Many local residents are employed in agriculture, which experienced significant growth on the westside of the San Joaquin Valley after the completion of the California Aqueduct in the early 1970s. However, the community has been impacted by the late 2000s recession as well as drought and restrictions on pumping from the Sacramento River delta to protect endangered species. In July 2009, the unemployment rate was 24.8 percent.
The Kettleman Hills were named after Dave Kettelman, a pioneer sheep and cattleman who grazed his animals there in the 1860s. Kettleman Hills long ago in the early 1900s was a crossing for people who would travel from Lemoore to Kettleman City by ferry. As the Tulare Lake receded in the late 1920s, this stretch between the two cities later became State Route 41.
Oil was discovered in the Kettleman Hills in 1928, at the Kettleman North Dome Oil Field, which became one of the most productive oil fields in the United States in the early 1930s. Reportedly, thousands of spectators came to see the gusher that spouted almost pure gasoline for weeks.
A. Manford Brown, a real estate developer, founded the town of Kettleman City in 1929. He donated land for a school and for the community church. The main street (State Route 41) was called Brown Street after him. A branch library was established in 1930. By 1940, Kettleman City had a population of about 600.
The early 1970s saw two substantial projects that had significant impacts on the community: the completion of the California Aqueduct and the opening of Interstate 5.